Anthropology Department

2021-2022 Anthropology Courses

This is the course schedule for Anthropology. Scroll down for more information on our exciting upper level seminars!

Fall 2021

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.

ANTH 211 F01 – Vaidya
TuTh 13:40-15:00                           Eliot 414              

ANTH 211 F02– Vaidya

TuTh 15:15-16:35                           Eliot 414 
 
ANTH 211 F03 – Brada
TuTh 10:25-11:45                           Vollum 234
 
ANTH 211 F04 – Brada
TuTh 12:00-13:20                           Vollum 234

Anthropology 306 - #CentralAmericanTwitter: Continuity and Rupture in Central American Indigenous Histories

Roche Recinos
TuTh 10:25-11:45                            Eliot 216

Full course for one semester. Of the 250,000 Guatemalan migrants apprehended at the US-Mexico border between 2018-2019, many Americans may be surprised to learn that at least half are Indigenous, often with little fluency in Spanish and with a distinct cultural background. Understanding the forces driving this modern-day migration, and its effects on these Indigenous migrants, requires a historically situated understanding of Central American Indigeneity itself and its unique legacy within countries like Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. This course provides that historical background, beginning with the archaeology and ancient history of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and continuing through the Conquest of the Americas to the present day. By focusing on topics such as Indigenous culture, social inequality, and religion, we will track historical currents through time and discuss what affect they continue to have today. From this framing, we will use a multi-media approach that includes films, excerpts of novels, ethnographies, photographs, and social media to access first-hand accounts of the topics discussed in class. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 307 - "One Good Turkey Hen is Worth 100 Cacao Beans": An Introduction to Economic Anthropology

Roche Recinos
TuTh 13:40-15:00                            Eliot 216

Full course for one semester. What does it mean to be in debt? What is the difference between exchange and barter? Why do things have prices? What are gifts? What is value? These are questions that are fundamental to economics, yet their answers vary significantly between different cultures and time periods. In this course, we examine these questions through the lens of economic anthropology and adopt a holistic framework that considers the diversity of preferences, behaviors, and activities that relate to how people meet their basic (or not) human needs. We will consider behaviors like production, consumption, and exchange from a cross-cultural perspective that shows alternative practices and understandings that confront conventional arguments about human economic behavior. To do so, we will learn about the principles and history of economic anthropology and consider how we might study the economic practices of people today and in the past. What kind of material evidence do we look at? How do we know what was valued in the past? Through a combination of ethnographic texts, museum collections, and archaeological reports, we will consider these questions and call into question the assumed logics and structures of our current economic system. Students will be encouraged to develop and pursue interests in any regions, time periods, and topics they feel drawn to and will be given frequent opportunities to explore these further through various assignments. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 320 - Social Movements, Protests, and Historical Change in South Asia

Vaidya
W 18:10-21:00                          Eliot 416

Full course for one semester. The Arab uprisings, the Black Lives Matter movement, the ongoing student movement in India, and the rise of far-right movements in the United States and elsewhere have given a new urgency to an examination of the tactics and possibilities of mass movements and protests: How and why do large groups of people come together to protest? When and how do some people and issues become political, and when and how do they not? How and when are these movements successful in achieving their aims? What social, cultural, and political effects do they have beyond their explicit aims? How, finally, do these movements interact with existing state and legal structures, whether antagonistically or through participation and engagement? By examining South Asian social movements with a focus on India, this conference analyzes current and historical attempts to reconfigure the relationships between people, laws, and states. In the process, the conference engages with challenges facing anthropology in theorizing historical change and in finding methodologies suited to large- and multi-scaled social processes. South Asia, with its vast scale and its complex and constantly shifting political landscape, is both an ideal and an important site for these inquiries. This conference also serves as an introduction to the anthropology of South Asia. It begins with a historical and theoretical consideration of the play of domination and hegemony in the colonial period, moves to a study of nationalist movements in India and Bangladesh, and then draws on the theoretical frameworks studied in the beginning of the semester to consider a range of contemporary social movements, including the Indian Maoist uprising, Dalit and anticaste movements, and the Sri Lankan Civil War. This course asks what an anthropological approach to the specific and local can bring to the study of politics, and what a study of large-scale movements can bring to anthropological understandings of historical change. This course meets the department’s area requirement. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. 

Anthropology 324 - Sport and Society

Silverstein
MW 15:00-16:20                          Eliot 216

Full course for one semester. Sports are deeply entangled with and imbricated in social processes, cultural institutions, and everyday life across much of the globe. The course approaches sports play as a set of embodied practices and performances, as a primary site for the reproduction and innovation of fundamental categories of gender/sex/sexuality, class, race/ethnicity, and nationality. Through case studies of situated sporting practices (notably football/soccer, cricket/baseball, basketball, bodybuilding, boxing, capoeira, skateboarding, and parkour), we will examine how colonial legacies are literally embodied in contemporary forms of urban space, nationalism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 374 - Urban Anthropology

Silverstein
Tu 18:10-21:00                          Eliot 216

Full course for one semester. The course provides an introduction to urban anthropology, with a particular focus on the colonial and postcolonial metropole as an exemplary site for the reciprocal influences of global and local processes. It explores how the city functions simultaneously as a locus for the negotiation of cultural diversity and for utopian ideals of rational communication. Drawing from cases throughout the “developed” and “developing” worlds, the course examines how urban culture is produced and reproduced under regimes of industrialization, colonialism, modernism, and globalization. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 465 - Suffering, Narrative, and Subjectivity

Brada
MW 13:25-14:45                          Vollum 234

Full course for one semester. “The subject living in pain, in poverty, or under conditions of violence or oppression,” Joel Robbins contends in a recent essay, “now very often stands at the center of anthropological work” (2013:448). This course examines the emergence of what Robbins calls “the suffering slot,” that is, the displacement of difference in late twentieth-century and early twenty-first-century anthropology as the discipline’s organizing principle, and a reorientation toward universal human vulnerability. Our concern is with how this turn has shaped both the substantive and ethical contours of anthropological investigation and ethnographic writing: What can, and ought, anthropologists know and say about the world and those who inhabit it? What can, and ought to, be the relationship between anthropologists and their objects of study? We will give particular attention to philosophical arguments that emphasize the ineffability of suffering—that is, the ways that suffering defies narrative—and the implications of these arguments for theories of subjectivity. Of particular interest is how these ideas have shaped the generic conventions that have emerged in anthropological studies of suffering, and how these conventions in turn reflect a particular moment in anthropology’s self-understanding as a discipline. This course applies to the department’s SETS and linguistic anthropology concentrations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211. Conference.

Spring 2022

Anthropology 201 - Topics in Contemporary Anthropology

Decolonizing Archaeology - Roche Recinos

S01 TuTh 13:40-15:00          Vollum 126
S02 TuTh 15:15-16:35          Vollum 126

Full course for one semester. This course is designed to expand students’ notions about just what archaeologists do and what questions archaeology can answer. Through a review of archaeology’s history, goals, theories, and methods, we will explore the ways in which archaeology is practiced, focusing in particular on the questions and techniques that shape our knowledge of the human past. In addition to dispelling misconceptions about archaeologists studying dinosaurs or ancient aliens, this course will be candid and critical of the colonial and imperialist histories of archaeology while also highlighting the positive ways in which it has been practiced. We will examine how it is that archaeologists develop ideas about the past through its material remains and the relevance of their research in the present. We will pay particular attention to the challenges and ethical dilemmas that come from collecting, studying, and displaying the material remains of ancient cultures, especially those with descendent communities in the present who have historically been marginalized by archaeology. Thinking about how archaeologists can build relationships and partner with contemporary communities will be a core component of this course. While this course is not meant to be a survey of world history, we will explore the history of archaeology through references to studies from all over the world that investigate periods ranging from prehistory to the present. Students will be encouraged to develop and pursue interests in any regions, time periods, and topics they feel drawn to and will be given frequent opportunities to explore these further through various assignments. This course applies to the department’s SETS concentration. No prerequisite. Conference.

Bodies, Spaces, Subjectivities - Silverstein

S03 MW 13:25-14:45          Eliot 216
S04 MW 15:00-16:20          Eliot 216

Full course for one semester. This course is designed to be a gateway course in cultural-phenomenological anthropology geared toward first- and second-year students. It introduces basic concepts and methods in anthropology through a sustained attention to human bodies as the preeminent space of subject making in different cultural contexts. Drawing on phenomenology, practice theory, urban studies, performance studies, and gender theory, the course approaches culture as a form of doing rather than of being, as first and foremost a set of embodied, material practices and cultivated dispositions. It explores both how corporeality connects people with others and their environments, and how, in the process, bodies become objects of individual attention and social action. Readings connect classics in social theory (Merleau-Ponty, Schutz, Bourdieu, Simmel, Goffman) with canonical anthropological texts (Boas, Sapir, Mauss, Gluckman, Sahlins), and ethnographies focusing on particular forms of embodiment and space making in the Americas, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Oceania. Topics include dwelling, working, playing, learning, making, modifying, exchanging, and contesting. Students will partner to conduct small fieldwork projects in the Portland area, learning basic qualitative methods in the process. No prerequisite. Conference. 

Anthropology 211 - Introduction to Anthropology: History, Theory, Method

Silverstein
MW 18:10-19:30                          Eliot 216

Full course for one semester. An introduction to the history, theory, methods, and subject matter of the field of social and cultural anthropology. Students become familiar with the conceptual framework of the discipline and with some of its techniques of research and interpretation. Anthropology is considered in its role as a social science and as a discipline with ties to the humanities and natural sciences. Emphasis is on close integration of analytic abstractions with empirical particulars. Conference. Not open to first-year students.

Anthropology 300 - African Technoscience

Brada
MW 13:25-14:45                          Vollum 309

Full course for one semester. In the Global North, Africans frequently appear as the beneficiaries and consumers of global flows of science and technology or, conversely, science and technology’s misusers and refusers. Rarely do they figure as its authors, producers, or animators. This course interrogates the conditions of possibility for African technoscience. What do the key themes of the anthropology of science—the politics of knowledge production, naturalizations as a site of investigation, the role of the state in shaping scientific infrastructures—look like when viewed from the African continent? What is at stake in claiming a particularly African logic, or in insisting on the rationality of witchcraft? Foregrounding the work of African anthropologists and historians, this course will examine Africans’ participation in and contestation of science as a practice of knowledge production, as a technique of colonial governance, as a site of anti-colonial resistance, as a tool of post-colonial nation-building, and as a potential instrument of decolonization. Drawn from across sub-Saharan Africa, our readings will analyze knowledge production practices such as molecular biology, geology, mathematics, and anthropology while also grappling with how the boundaries of these practices have emerged and the people, objects, and forms of knowledge that exceed those boundaries. This course meets the department’s area requirement and applies to the department’s SETS concentration. Prerequisites: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference. Cross-listed as Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 390.

Anthropology 305 - Musical Ethnography

See Music 305 Description

Anthropology 308 - Obsidian Rocks! A Natural and Social History

Roche Recinos
W 18:10-21:00                          Vollum 234

Full course for one semester. Today, most people have little if any relationship to the dark, black, brittle volcanic glass we know as obsidian. But from early Neolithic farmers trading throughout the Mediterranean, to Maya priests conducting ritual sacrifices, to Polynesian explorers sailing across the Pacific, obsidian can tell us about the daily lives, practices, technologies, and relationships of ancient peoples. For much of human antiquity, obsidian was prized not only for its sharpness, but also for its distinct physical properties. Its translucency, color, and shimmer have made an aesthetically pleasing material as well, with obsidian used as often for elaborate figurines, mirrors, and weapons, as used for tools. Moreover, the volcanic conditions necessary to create obsidian make it a scarce resource in many regions of the world, and therefore traded for over great distances. The various uses and cultural connotations of obsidian persist up to the present day, whether in its use in jewelry, in surgical tools, or popular media (as Dragonglass in Game of Thrones). This course examines the history of this unique material, its many uses, cultural and symbolic meanings, and the ways in which archaeologists study it today. In investigating the natural and social history of obsidian, this course will not only draw on scientific articles and archaeological reports, but also include hands-on tutorials in obsidian knapping, chemical sourcing, artifact illustration, and quantitative and qualitative lithic analyses. By analyzing obsidian firsthand, students will learn the diversity of approaches that archaeologists employ to understand the use, function, history, and meaning of ancient materials. This course applies to the department's SETS concentration. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 342 - Language and Medicine

Brada
TuTh 13:40-15:00                           Vollum 228

Full course for one semester. This course examines the intersection of language with practices of health and healing in anthropological analyses. While medical anthropologists have long pointed to healing as a cultural practice, they have given less attention to its linguistic dimensions. Within anthropological analyses, moreover, language as a tool of healing is consigned to biomedicine’s suspect others (e.g., traditional healing, ritual) and to the treatment of what biomedicine frames as ephemeral phenomena (minds, emotions, selves, subjectivities) relative to the body’s seeming concrete reality. This course will take a cross-cultural approach to healing, asking how linguistic anthropology can contribute to analyses of affliction broadly construed. We will also look at the history of the subdisciplinary division of labor that has made language and biomedicine seem incompatible as objects of anthropological analysis. This course applies to the department’s SETS and linguistic anthropology concentrations. Prerequisite: Anthropology 201 or 211. Conference.

Anthropology 371 - Race and Caste

Vaidya
Tu 15:15-18:05                          VILASE ASPEN MR

See Comparative Race and Ethnicity Studies 300 Description

Anthropology 425 - Marx from the South

Vaidya
Th 15:15-18:05                          VILASE ASPEN MR

Full course for one semester. This course engages with a long history of Marx and political economic thought in relation to the global South. The course is organized around key concepts, such as labor, value, capital, property, and class. We examine these concepts through readings of foundational texts in political economy including Marx, Locke, and Smith and the historical context of empire in which these texts were written. Alongside this historical context, we examine these concepts as they have been drawn upon analytically by anthropologists working on and politically by social movements working in the global South. Prerequisite: Anthropology 211 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Anthropology 470 - Thesis

Full course for one year.